Wednesday Workshop: In Patience or Simplicity, Greatness

I have this moment in my current erotic thriller that is just burning a hole in my head.

I have two of them, actually.

I have these two moments where if I hadn't have just moved things along so quickly, I could see something much greater there. Ways to take the story in new directions, with less of a rush and more depth and longer "what could have been moments."

The book is written, and at 30,000 words, I have this feeling "I am done." I am editing now, going over things, doping my several passes through the text, and polishing this for release.

But these two moments stick with me.

Part of it is the desire to "fan service" out these parts and explore them. Wouldn't "your favorite movie" be a better story if "this part was gone into deeper?" You know the feeling, you sit there in the movie wishing the characters would have spent a little longer in these moments, stayed here a while, and dived into the moment a little longer.

Could they find greatness in patience?

But somewhere, a writer or director thought "we need to keep things moving!" The decision was made to cut, and to keep things short. And in the end, that decision was probably for the better. We make things stronger by pruning them. We make things cleaner by removing garbage and cruft and letting the best parts shine through.

Or is greatness found in simplicity?

Here's something to think about. You don't want to be making excuses to your reader. You don't want to sit there and hand-wave off something the reader was setup for and legitimately expecting, and then change course because "you don't want to go there." I have a moment like that in my book and it is painful and shows. I need to move things along, but there is this obvious second part to follow an act and I hand-wave it off.

The reader will see this.

The reader will feel short-changed.

This will stick with the reader until the end of the book.

So I will likely need to change this part, and "go there." I will need to add another three to four thousand words to cover the logical end to this act. I will need to be careful not to allow this act of fan service take things over and have a life of its own, but it was sold and it needs to be delivered.

You need to make the judgement between "simplicity" or "patience" in moments like this, and it happens time and time again when you write. You sit there and wonder "did I rush this?" and then you have to place yourself in your reader's place to make that decision. You can't hand-wave it off though. You can't write a "note to the teacher" to the reader and say "the writer didn't want to handle this" and brush it off. It is in a way an insult to the reader directly, even if it is situational and there is a valid story reason for "not going there" for the character.

Sure, her parents showed up and interrupted that sex scene, but the reader will just have this feeling the writer made them show up so what the steamy scene that was promised could be reneged on. If it a rain-check and this is to build tension and anticipation, fine, you are playing with me, but if it isn't delivered upon by the end of the book you may have a problem.

I have one of those in my book, and I am probably going to rework it dramatically.

The next thing I have in my book is a "go into it deeper" moment that I may or may not expand on. There is a point where I could take the story in a direction that would be interesting and deeply wonderful and it would not change too much if I detoured there a while. It would mean rewriting a scene, but it would not change the before or after. It is an "expanded loop" I could insert between two chapters to explore a situation further.

This I may or may not work on. It depends if it will create too much of a distraction later. By adding a significant new area of new content, I may distract and take away from the sudden and jarring conclusion to this arc. There is a danger here of fluffing something out too much, meandering, and writing too much into a situation. You risk losing energy in the afterward. Sure, it may be more interesting with all this new content, but it may be better without it.

I am more resistant to creating these "fan service" loops in my work, where someone wanders around a place for a while to give the reader a better sense of place and location with the events in the book. If it does not happen or get seen on the main track of narrative, you can't spend too much time there floating in the eddies.

But there is a time to float in the eddies all the same. Patience does reflect greatness, just as much as simplicity.

To be considerate is the keyword here. Considerate of the reader's experience, not the writer's. If the writer is just "trying to get a scene done" it will show. If the writer is just "padding out a scene" it will show. If you can sit there as a reader, detached from your work, and ask the questions "too fast" or "too slow" you will be on the right track.

But there will be times where you will need to go down those paths. Times where you will need to pull apart the bushes and discover that lost forest trail. You will need to be brave enough to walk down these paths, into the woods, through the darkness, and create that experience for the reader. Do not be afraid to go to these places.

You must have the patience in yourself to allow yourself to be great.

For in truth we find the simplicity of purpose.